How Are You?

“How are you, Robin?”

“I’m fine,” I say.

Translation: Feelings Inside Not Expressed

Each time my family moved (4 elementary schools, 1 junior high, 2 high schools), I knew my mom needed me (oldest of 3) to be fine.  And I was the good kid, the responsible kid, the one who was fine.  I perfected being fine.  And I’m still good at it.

I’m good at figuring out how to fit in.  I notice things like what kind of clothes a group wears (Saturday morning women’s group–jeans, yoga pants, ponytails, not much makeup) and how they act and talk to each other. My last high school was in Raleigh, NC.  Kids there grew up saying “yes, ma’am” and “no, sir.”  I did not.  The first time I answered a teacher with “yeah” I swear I heard gasps. I learned, once again.  Much, much later, I learned this noticing thing has a name–hypervigilance (here’s an explanation).  It’s not a symptom of mental health.

“How are you, Robin?”

“I’m ok,” I say.

Translation: I’m kind of surprised to be all right because some hard stuff has been happening in my life and I’ve been focused on doing what I can to be centered and in balance. I don’t realize I’m ok until you ask how I am. So thank you for asking!

“How are you, Robin?”

“I’m not ok,” I say.

Translation:  I really trust you.

My animal symbol is Turtle.  I don’t come out of my protective shell easily.  I learned early to hide myself emotionally. I needed to be fine.  I read this recently: “feeling was a luxury I didn’t think I could afford.” (Nancy Slonim Aronie) Yeah, me, too.  When I was 40 years old, a therapist gave me a list of “feeling words”  (here’s a long list) because I only knew a couple. I’ve been learning about my emotions and how to live in them ever since.

“How are you, Robin?”

“I’m good!” I say.

Translation: The exclamation point says it all.  In this moment, all is well and I am grateful.

(a quote from Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way)

In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past too painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now.  The precise moment I was always in was the only safe place for me.

So,

I’m fine” means I am not in the present moment and I do not want to be.

I’m ok” means I am on the edges of the present moment and, for the moment, choosing not to run away.

I’m not ok” means I am smack dab in the middle of the present moment and it’s painful and I’m choosing not to run away, but I wish the pain would go away. And I need a hug.

I’m good!” means I’m smack dab in the middle of the present moment and I’m feeling joy and gratitude and I want it to last forever, but I know it won’t and that’s ok.

And how are you, my friend?

 

Published in: on September 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm  Comments (6)  
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